Jenny Hval: The Practice of Love (Sacred Bones) - Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Jenny Hval

The Practice of Love

Sacred Bones

Oct 31, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

There is an inspirational, gleaming Queen in every neighborhood. Everywhere we look, art is being made by divine beauty. Turmoil surrounds us, but turn the other direction. We can’t survive without happiness. The Queen of the community bathes us in quintessential vibes. The King has been dethroned, replaced by utter grace. Get behind it and drive, or accept eternal rest.

With Jenny Hval, the operation is seamless. Over seven albums, the native Norweigan has unspooled intimacy that is literally complex on gender from both political and conceptual angles. Hval’s music, which could be coined as transcendental trance on The Practice of Love, is becoming more accessible, but it comes without existing expectations. Hval’s art flows from above as energetic poetry.

But Hval is getting grounded, digging her fingers and wrists into a “huge pile of earth.” The gossamer synths and syncopated beats over The Practice of Love‘s 33 minutes could tilt mountains, maybe the same mountains Hval crumbled with Susanna Wallumrød on 2014’s ridiculously overlooked Meshes of Voice. The sonic beauty remains with The Practice of Love, but less agony, sorrow, and distortion. This is intimate trance music, and delightfully human. Love is a practice, and Hval is a published poet. Nothing can go wrong as Hval sings about otherness, the societal pressures to be normal, and what that all means. Writing about love, she hates love, too. An antagonist can be imperative for a virus to survive.

Hval likes to share. Vivian Wang, Laura Jean, and Félicia Atkinson come in and out throughout The Practice of Love, which shares the same name as Valie Export’s 1985 film. Creating a community of irresistible voices, Hval, Wang, Jean, and Atkinson are all together on “Six Red Cannas,” the cycling synth lines and subtle EDM beat getting into Prurient territory. “We used to be all under water,” they say; The Practice of Love is private pop. Hval and friends are all. Cheeks turn into chimes, hands can’t help but clap together, and shoulders move with no thought (“High Alice”).

Wang is one of the founders of Singapore-based art rock ensemble, The Observatory; Jean is an Australian musician; and Atkinson is from France, having a 2019 album called The Flower and the Vessel. I’ve never heard of these three women before, but Hval put their diamonds in sunlight. Hval is steadily fluttering, rising high. Wang and Hval study the ground—grass, ants, soil, mushrooms—on opener “Lions,” wondering where God is. Hval is talking to us, whispering to us, showing us an unknown place. “We all want something better,” says Hval, later singing “I was just an accident” alongside transfixing texture and saxophone.

The Practice of Love is short, but not if you repeat it three times. It becomes superhuman, a passage into Hval’s brain. It gives off energy while telling a story of how honesty sucks blood from love. “I wanna be the star of the human story, but I’m not,” and then the ladies all laugh. Hval says she was a “Thumbsucker,” but what is she now? She’s sucking on church bells with her friends, and we should join. (

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 2/10


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